A few days in Phuket
Geek info: All photos taken with the Fujifilm x100s or the GoPro Hero3+
Thailand... just the name conjures up images of an exotic place, filled with interesting faces, beautiful scenery and relaxing massages.
Elle, myself and a few friends went on a new years trip to Thailand to see what all the fuss was about. This will be the first part of a 3 part series covering our trip in Thailand.
Cue the music and the heroes entry... Our first destination was Phuket. Everything they say about Phuket is true, it's beautiful, packed filled with tourists and amazing.
Okay on to my story.
Chapter 1 - The Road To Phuket
So we arrived in Bangkok after a super long flight from Cape Town -> Johannesburg -> Nairobi -> Bangkok... I didn't check that there were two airports in Bangkok so we missed our Air Asia flight from Bangkok to Phuket and ended up having to buy another ticket. That kinda sucked but we paid our school fees and moved on (Pro tip, make sure to book the correct airports when booking multiple flights in a country).
After nearly 24 hours of travel we finally arrived at our destination in Kamala, Phuket, which is about 20 minutes north of the party town of Patong. We booked an awesome apartment through AirBNB. We were so tired from our travels, that we popped in at the 7 Eleven (which there are plenty of by the way), got some snacks and drinks and had a well deserved shower and relaxation time at the apartment.
The next day we walked down to the Kamala beach, which is about 10 minutes walk... and man... was it a good day. We spent the entire day lazing about on the beach, drinking fruit shakes (more on those later), eating phad thais, watching the jet skis go by, getting massages right on the beach and swimming (in the super warm ocean water).
Were there lots of people. Yes. Did we have an amazing time. Yes! Kamala beach is filled with mostly families so it has a very relaxed vibe. It's also one of the main beaches so you will find a ton of activities to do here.
At night, you can walk along the beach passing seafood restaurants, people selling activities.. oh and the best part.. Thai pancakes, filled with various goodies, like nutella and banana, cheese and tomato, syrup, mango... the list is endless.
Chapter 2 - Snorkelling
Thailand is definitely the place for under water activities. There are plenty of dive shops around if you'd like to do a Scuba course or you could just rent some snorkel gear and get into the Andaman sea. Most of the really good spots are a boats ride away. I highly recommend the longtail boats. We were a group of 5 so we chartered our own longtail boat for around 2500 Baht. We took a ride out to Rock Island from Phuket, which was about a good 40 minutes away.
The island is really interesting. It's quite small and made entirely of rock. It's not advisable to try get onto the island. I tried and came away with tons of cuts on my feet (not fun!). But what lies beneath is another world. There were tons of fish, interesting rock formations and other sea life. It was one of the best snorkelling spots I've been to. Make sure to get a GoPro if you're going down under (ha ha see what I did there).
We made a quick stop at a small beach just before Kamala beach and I did some snorkelling along the rocks. It was good with some small fish to be seen. Back at Kamala, we explored the area again and booked a day trip to the Hong islands for the next day.
Chapter 3 - The Hong Islands and tourist traps
There are tons of small islands around Phuket. Some are beautiful and some are just tourist traps. We booked a day trip to the Hong islands including sea kayaking. A ferry took us in the morning and we made various stops around the islands to kayak around sea caves (which was really awesome), except for the millions of other tourists there. The famous James Bond island was part of this tour. Don't make the mistake that we did. Do not visit this island.. it's overrun with tourists, cheap trinket shops and loud longtail boats. The only reason people come here is to take a photo with the massive limestone rock formation sticking out of the middle of the lagoon. It's really not fun to be surrounded by tourists.
So rather than do what we did, charter a private longtail and visit a few of the smaller Hong islands and enjoy the quiet.
So a fun day out, but not my favourite
Chapter 4 - Bangla Road, Lady Boys and Ping Pong shows
So we decided to visit the infamous Bangla road in Patong. It was a must since it was our first time in Thailand. This is a walking street, filled with go go bars (bars with half naked girls dancing on the bars), lady boys scamming you for money (I took a photo with them and they promptly asked me for 100 Baht) and Ping Pong shows everywhere.
All in all, it's a fun time out. We had cocktail specials at the Jack Daniels bar, chatted, laughed at drunk people and had a good time. We eventually had the courage to watch a ping pong show. And boy, was it a show... let's just say that what you hear about these women with these skills is all true, and I'll leave it as a surprise for you guys when you go watch the show yourself. There are no words that can describe watching a ping pong show. It's a must watch, so go see it for yourself.
Chapter 5 - New Years Eve
We really didn't know what we wanted to do for New Years Eve. Back in SA I kept saying that I was going to go full out. But when you're there, it's different. You just feel like relaxing with some good beer (their local beer is Singha and it is awesome!). So we ended up having a feast for dinner, with lots of fried rice, phad thai, prawns and tom yum soup. Then we watched the lanterns being lit and the fireworks being shot off into the night sky. It was chilled, and awesome! One of my best new years.
Chapter 6 - Onto our next adventure, Krabi
And just like that, our short time in Phuket was over... some of my favourite things about this bustling place were the amazing and friendly people, the food (oh the food!), the ease of getting around and all the 7 Elevens, the beach activities, the shopping. Sure Phuket is so popular with tourists now, but it still holds something special and I loved every moment there.
We woke up early on New Years day to take a Ferry to Krabi, our next adventure... come back to read about what we got up to there.